Day: April 12, 2013

Be on guard against the “Sins of Babylon” in your fleshly church

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I am confident of the fact that we all know that we are a church contained within our own selves. The building with the steeple and mortar and clay is not your primary church in as much as your fleshly dwelling. Materialisim and fleshly living are Babylonian practices we as stewards of “The Living God” need to beware of. I recently wrote about being slave to the lender and surprisingly I got no response pertaining to its content. We never feel good about our darkness being spoken of, but in-order to render ourselves stewards of healing we need the word spoken. The scripture says faith comes by hearing and how can the people hear without a preacher.

Babyalon

 

Habakkuk 2:6-14

New King James Version (NKJV)

6 “Will not all these take up a proverb against him,
And a taunting riddle against him, and say,
‘Woe to him who increases
What is not his—how long?
And to him who loads himself with many pledges’?[a]
7 Will not your creditors[b] rise up suddenly?
Will they not awaken who oppress you?
And you will become their booty.
8 Because you have plundered many nations,
All the remnant of the people shall plunder you,
Because of men’s blood
And the violence of the land and the city,
And of all who dwell in it.

9 “Woe to him who covets evil gain for his house,
That he may set his nest on high,
That he may be delivered from the power of disaster!
10 You give shameful counsel to your house,
Cutting off many peoples,
And sin against your soul.
11 For the stone will cry out from the wall,
And the beam from the timbers will answer it.

12 “Woe to him who builds a town with bloodshed,
Who establishes a city by iniquity!
13 Behold, is it not of the Lord of hosts
That the peoples labor to feed the fire,[c]
And nations weary themselves in vain?
14 For the earth will be filled
With the knowledge of the glory of the Lord,
As the waters cover the sea.

20 “But the Lord is in His holy temple.
Let all the earth keep silence before Him.”

The sentence of judgement against Babylon for their character of pride and their action of all-consuming greed (implicit in 2:4-5 and 1:5-7) is clearly and absolutely stated in verses six through 20. Here we have God giving voice to all the victims of injustices in a taunt song against their oppressors. All those nations conquered and plundered by the Babylonians would in due time witness the fall of their conqueror and join in this song of derision and denunciation. The announcement is captured in five stanzas of three verses each all beginning with the denouncement woe. These five woes are not only pronounced against the Babylonians but against the Israelites and all peoples who practice such evils.

I. Greedy Pawnbrokers, 6-8.
II. Secure Extortioners, 9-11.
III. Ruthless Enslavers, 12-14.
IV. Perverse Disgracers, 15-17.
V. Senseless Idol Worshippers, 18-20.

The suffering righteous receive alleviation if they discern the consequences for wicked living. The woes against the vicious wicked begin in verse 6. “Will not all of these take up a taunt-song against him, even mockery and insinuations against him, and say, ’Woe to him who increases what is not his–for how long–and makes himself rich with loans?”

Habakkuk said that all those nations (v. 5b) that Babylon has ruthlessly conquered and plundered will one day take up a taunt-song (mãŝãl) against them. This song of ridicule or mockery sung by their survivors is a poetic composition that has parallelism as its principle form of construction. This song is a type of object lesson for those who overstep God’s boundaries.

Woe is an exclamation of disaster because of certain sins (Isa. 3:11, 5:11, 10:5). It was frequently used by the prophets (22 times by Isaiah, 10 by Jeremiah and 7 by Ezekiel and 14 times in the minor prophets, and often by Jesus). The first is directed towards those puff-up proud who acquire goods dishonestly. They became wealthy by extortion. This woe compares the Babylonians to unscrupulous pawnbrokers who lend at exorbitant interest. They sought to heap up for themselves property that was not theirs. It was of course brazen theft. The valuables taken were not the property of the invaders. How long did they think they could continue doing this with impunity? How long would God let them keep It? Since it was not theirs, God sees it as loaned out to them. We will find out it was loaned to them at very high interest rates.

God’s responses to Habakkuk’s question as to the outcome of the conquering wicked continues in verse 7. “Will not your creditors rise up suddenly, and those who collect from you awaken? Indeed, you will become plunder for them.”

The question in verse 6 about how long they would be rich with the loans of others is answered by two other questions. The first is, will not your debtors suddenly arise? The word debtor/creditor is literally biter. They will bite back and get hold of what is theirs. The word collect is literally shake violently. It is a strong word like the violent shaking of loose leaves and branches by a force five hurricane. Babylon would become plunder or the victim. The plundered will not only get a lockjaw hold on their goods but shake (collect) their oppressor violently to get even more from them. Babylon would now herself be attacked and extorted.

Ambition can be a good thing (Rom. 15:20; 2 Cor. 5:9) or it can be a motivation for greed, selfishness, and abuse. The Babylonians were consumed by selfish ambition and they stopped at nothing to acquire wealth and power. They had hoards of stolen goods plundered from weaker people. God warned them that the owners of this wealth would one day rise up to collect what was due them. The Babylonians then would become the victims.

Some of their crimes are describe more fully in verse 8. “Because you have looted many nations, all the remainder of the peoples will loot you–because of human bloodshed and violence done to the land, to the town and all its inhabitants.”

The punishment fits the crime. The looter would be looted for the plundered would rise up suddenly to plunder. There was going to be a boomerang effect and their action would come back to strike them full force. Babylon’s intimidation and inhumanity would recoil on their own heads. They would reap what they had sown (Prov. 22:8; Gal. 6:7).

This reversal of roles would come about because they had ruthlessly shed man’s blood and had recklessly ravaged both lands and cities. Babylon had shed rivers of blood and so her blood would be shed. The nations will plunder the plunderer. The people will do violence to the violent.
materialisim

II. SECURE EXTORTIONERS, 9-11. The second woe is pronounce on the violent extortioners who think they have made their life secure in verse 9. “Woe to him who gets evil gain for his house to put his nest on high to be delivered from the hand of calamity!”

Not only were the Babylonians guilty of unjust gain (vv. 6-8) but they also used that plunder for self-exaltation. A man is motivated to try and build a family and accumulate as much as he can by more or less honest means. Then a vulture swoops in and takes it away because he desires to enlarge his portfolio. He does what ever it takes to place himself beyond the possibility of ruin. Like these banks taking people homes in America right now.

The imagery is that these greedy men wanted to build a fortune, elevate themselves to invulnerable financial security depicted by an eagles nest on high. They sought to build for themselves a secure heritage, inaccessible and impregnable from the attack of others (Num. 24:21, Job 39:27; Jer. 49:16 and Ob. 4). They wanted sufficient enough wealth to deliver themselves from all forms of calamity. But this goal wasn’t just for an individual but for a towering world empire that they built with plunder and covetousness.

The conclusion of the proud way is shame and realizing you have wasted your life. Verse 10 continues the second woe. “You have devised a shameful thing for your house by cutting off (killing) many peoples, so you are sinning against yourself.” (10)

In trying to elevate and protect his house and strengthen his rule by robbery and plunder so that his family might live in security he has done a shameful thing. The result of his heaping up evil gain brings shame and not security to his house.

Instead of lasting glory will come shame and ruin. An estate raised by iniquity is always a scandal to a family. But that is not the worst of it. They also sin against (hata) their own soul for he has brought the retribution of God against his own house (Eccl. 8:8) because he ruined many people. The sentence balances the crime, shame for self-exaltation.

Verse 11 indicates that even the items purchased with plunder would cry out against them. “Surely the stone will cry out from the wall, and the rafter will answer it from the framework.”

Even inanimate things like the buildings he has erected to his own glory and for the satisfaction of his own pride will cry out because of the injustices perpetrated first to obtain them and then to use them. Even if all other witnesses were killed the stones of the walls and the beams of the woodwork will testify against them (Gen. 4:10, LK 19:40, Ps. 29:9).

Picture a nobleman in the Babylonian army. He wants to rise to a high position and enjoy its rewards–to have an opulent house and to be secure in it. So he cuts down a forest that belongs to somebody else and from the trees of that forest makes great beams for his home. Then he destroys someone else’s home and takes the beautiful stone blocks it was made of for himself. When he finishes he has a beautiful house, a “nest on high” (v.9). But everyone who looks at it knows where the stones and beams came from, and his pride and joy become a cause for shame. When the opportunity arises they will see that the nobleman is treated as he treated others. The exalted nest would be knocked off its lofty perch and the lavish palaces would become a mausoleum, or an above ground tomb. Saddam Hussein’s palaces are a good examples.

III. RUTHLESS ENSLAVERS, 12-14.

Violent injustice is condemned again in verse 12. “Woe to him who builds a city with bloodshed and founds a town with violence!”

For the tyrannical oppression of captured peoples, a third woe is called down on the Chaldean conquerors. Here is a nation that has gone from greed, to injustice and now to violence. Not content with what their injustices can procure for themselves they now add crimes of violence to their vices, so great is their lust to have things.

Their cities were built with bloodshed. First the wealth by which the king of Babylon built his magnificent buildings was gain by bloody warfare. Second, capture labor was uncaringly sacrificed to build the structures of the empire. Oppression, murder and tyranny built the nation. Yes, great effort & strength they conquered the world & built an empire, but it was all for naught .

God says that human labor is fuel for the fire for those who build by bloodshed in verse 13. “Is it not indeed from the LORD of Hosts that peoples toil for fire, and nations grow weary for nothing?”

The dirge now turns to the LORD of Hosts and His assessment of the violent scene. The outcome of their crimes against humanity are also crimes against God’s way. Contrary to the proud intentions of the Babylonians the Lord would determine the final outcome of all this toil. All their exhausting work for self-exaltation would be for nothing. Their work would all be consumed in the fire that would bring the Chaldean Empire to an end. God causes the plans and peoples who opposed His way to fail and their eveil life becomes fuel for the eternal fire.

Calamity in the earth is not God’s last word. Verse 14 is the center piece of these five woes. It declares God’s intent to fill the earth with the knowledge of His glory. “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

In times of old Nimrod had set up a kingdom in Babylon to usurp the power and glory of the Most High God (Gen. 10:10, 11:14). But it passed away. Babylon conquered the known world, but it too passed away. One day again “Babylon” will set up its kingdom (Rev. 17-18) but it will be replaced by the kingdom of God (Rev. 11:15). The Babylonian kingdoms of this world must give way to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. In order for the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea, the kingdom of this world that leads peoples away from the knowledge of the Lord God must be conquered, judged and cleansed. The purpose of God in creating the earth was that it might reflect His glory, (Num. 14:21, Isa. 11:9) and in that day it will!

When the Messiah rules in His earthly kingdom, the knowledge of the Lord will be worldwide. Everyone will know of Him (Jer. 31:34). So extensive and abundant will be that knowledge that it will be like water covering the sea. The jagged rocks of injustice and the entangling seaweed of sin will be covered with the deep peace of God’s righteousness.

In 1861, during the US Civil War, author Julia Ward Howe visited Washington, DC. One day she saw a large number of soldiers marching. Early the next morning she awoke with words for a song in her mind.

In the midst of all the ugliness of war her faith led her to write: “Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.” She grasped that in spite of and even through the ugliness, God was “marching on” toward the day when He will right the wrongs of the ages.

[The prophet Habakkuk came to a similar conclusion. Chapter 1 of his book tells us how troubled he was when he learned that God was going to punish the people of Judah by letting them be conquered by the wicked Babylonians. In chapter 2, God assured His servant that-]

In spite of and even through all the ugliness and wrongs of history–He is “marching on” toward the day when He who rules the universe from “His holy temple” (v. 20) will fill “the earth with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD”.

CONCLUSION

In contrast to the shame and infamy of short-lived Babylon, God promised that one day His glory would cover the earth. The gloom of the preceding and following woes is broken by a ray of light shining in the midst of the darkness of man’s self-seeking. One day God’s presence will fill the earth (Num. 14:21; Isa. 6:3) permeating every place like water. Theoretical knowledge is insufficient. Each person needs an intimate personal encounter with God.

Have you had one?-an intimate personal encounter with God? Does your ambitions and business practices demonstrate that you have? How has your wealth been accumulated? Let your ambitions be of God and find your contentment in knowing Him. Encounter the unlimited God and you will not greedily grasp limited realm of earth.

O’ Where-O’ Where has my America Gone-O’ Where can It Be?

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america's death

We have two American flags always: one for the rich and one for the poor. When the rich fly it means that things are under control; when the poor fly it means danger, revolution, anarchy.

Henry Miller

What in the world is happening to America? The things that you are about to see in the videos posted in this article are so disturbing and so violent that it is hard to believe that it is actually Americans that are doing this to one another. Once upon a time, Americans generally conducted themselves with humility, grace, civility, honor and with a tremendous amount of respect for others. Sadly, those days are now long gone. Now, large numbers of people in this country are just going wild. Unfortunately, the videos you are about to watch are not isolated incidents. Stuff like this is going on all over the country. So what is going to happen when the economy collapses and shortages begin? What kind of violence and rioting should we expect to see at that point? Just recall what we witnessed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Sadly, if the videos below are any indication, the thin facade of civilization that we all take for granted every day could completely disintegrate in the event of a major economic catastrophe.

Today, society actually teaches our young people to be disrespectful and rude. Arrogance and violent behavior are glorified in our movies, on television and in our music. Our culture is literally degenerating right in front of our eyes. The whole country seems to become more selfish, more self-centered and more greedy every single day. In such an environment, is it any wonder that our young people are exhibiting such extreme behaviors?

The violence that you are about to see is very disturbing because it is real. If you spend most of your time isolated in your own little world, these scenes of brawling and violence will probably come as a great shock to you. But this is what is really happening in the United States of America today.

If people are willing to go so wild while times are still relatively good, what in the world is going to happen if a major disaster strikes or the economy collapses and they have been without food for two or three days?

This is something that we all really need to consider. In the United States today, there are millions of people with no jobs, no hope and no future. The mainstream media keeps promising that an “economic recovery” is right around the corner and most Americans are desperately hoping that 2013 will be better, but you can almost feel the frustration of the American people rising.

We live in a country today that is very frustrated and very angry. Some of that anger and frustration is rational, but a whole lot of it is irrational. Most Americans have been brought up to believe that they are entitled to “a good life”, and when that doesn’t happen they start behaving like spoiled little brats.

If some major emergency comes along that pushes the U.S. economy over the edge, it could cause massive societal upheaval. There wouldn’t be close to enough law enforcement personnel in the entire country to be able to handle the rioting and looting that we could potentially see.

Back during the Great Depression of the 1930s, the American people were able to pull through because our citizens still possessed a great deal of character. But today many Americans are incredibly spoiled. Many Americans believe that they are entitled to everything and that life is all about them. They are in love with themselves, they are in love with money and wealth, they are arrogant and boastful, they don’t respect their parents, they are addicted to entertainment, they have very little self-control and they have very little love for others.

Fortunately, there are also many Americans that still have good hearts, that are willing to fight for the truth and that are willing to live for something greater than themselves.

This is one of the most extraordinary times in all of human history to be alive, and as I noted in a previous article, it is those that are willing to live life unselfishly that will be pleased with the legacy that they have left behind….

When I was young, someone told me the following: “Life is like a coin – you can spend it any way that you want, but you can only spend it once.” So how are you spending your life? Are you just “killing time” and watching world events go by or are you actively trying to make a difference? When your life is over, will you be proud of the legacy that you have left, or will you be ashamed of what you have done with the time that you were given? None of us can go back now and change what we have done in the past, but the future stands unwritten before us. The remaining chapters of your life can be a beautiful thing – but only if you are courageous enough to seize the day.

We are going to need leaders that are going to be able to keep it together when times get tough in the years ahead. When most people realize that the “good times” are gone forever, they are absolutely going to lose it. Many people are going to totally freak out.

But if you are willing to embrace the challenges ahead instead of letting them swamp you with anger and desperation, then the coming years could become a great time of victory and adventure for you.

So what do you think about the crazy videos that you just viewed above? Do you think that Americans are emotionally prepared for an economic collapse? Why do you think people are suddenly acting so crazy?

In the America that most of us grew up in, most Americans considered themselves to be part of the “upper middle class”, the “middle class” or “the lower middle class”. Yes, there have always been poor people and homeless people, but they were thought to be a very small sliver of the population. Well, today all of that is dramatically changing. America’s emerging “poverty class” is exploding in size at the same time that America’s middle class is rapidly disappearing. You won’t hear it on the mainstream news, but the truth is that the United States has lost ten percent of its middle class jobs over the past decade. Only the top 5 percent of income earners in the U.S. has had their incomes increase enough to keep up with the rising cost of living over the past 40 years. The truth is that today there are a whole lot of people aggressively jostling for the small number of good jobs that are actually available and each year millions more Americans are being squeezed out of the middle class. The number of Americans that are financially dependent on the U.S. government continues to set new records month after month. The number of Americans that are participating in the labor force continues to go down. The sad reality is that the “American Dream” that so many Americans used to take for granted is being ripped away from us. If you still believe that the United States is guaranteed to always have a very large, very prosperous middle class then you really need to read the statistics listed below.

If you told most Americans ten years ago that in 2013 over 43 million Americans would be on food stamps hardly anyone would have believed you.

But yet here we are.

The U.S. economy simply is not producing enough good jobs anymore. Most of those that are able to acquire one of these jobs have been able to cling to middle class status, but for millions upon millions of others economic desperation has become “the new normal”.

In fact, more Americans than ever seem to have just given up. The number of working age Americans that are not even looking for work anymore is at a record high. The number of Americans that endlessly receive government “anti-poverty” benefits continues to go up and up.

Once upon a time America was a nation packed with hopelessly optimistic “go-getters” that were brimming with entrepreneurial spirit. But now we have tens of millions of docile sheep that seemingly have no hope, no future and that apparently have no problem with permanently being dependent on the government.

But of course it must be noted that thanks to “globalism” and thanks to the greed of the gigantic predator corporations that now dominate our economy that it has become extremely difficult to “make it” in today’s economy.

It really is incredible to see what has happened to America. Once upon a time we were the greatest economic machine in the history of the world, but now we are literally being dismantled piece by piece. The poverty that we are witnessing today is only going to become even worse as the U.S. economy continues to decline.

The following are 27 signs that America’s poverty class is rapidly becoming larger than America’s middle class….

#1 Only 47 percent of working-age Americans have a full-time job at this point.

#2 One out of every six elderly Americans now lives below the federal poverty line.

#3 In America today, 8.9 million people are working part-time jobs for “economic reasons”.

#4 During the last school year, almost half of all school children in the state of Illinois came from families that were considered to be “low-income”.

#5 In 2010, more Americans than ever before were living below the official federal poverty line.

#6 The number of net jobs gained by the U.S. economy during this past decade was smaller than during any other decade since World War 2.

#7 The Bureau of Labor Statistics originally predicted that the U.S. economy would create approximately 22 million jobs during the decade of the 2000s, but it turns out that the U.S. economy only produced about 7 million jobs during that time period.

#8 108.6 million Americans are either unemployed, underemployed or considered to be “not in the labor force”.

#9 The United States now has 10 percent fewer “middle class jobs” than it did just ten years ago.

#10 The number of Americans that have become so discouraged that they have given up searching for work completely now stands at an all-time high.

#11 Back in 1970, 25 percent of all jobs in the United States were manufacturing jobs. Today, only 9 percent of the jobs in the United States are manufacturing jobs.

#12 According to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, visits to soup kitchens are up 24 percent over the past year.

#13 Approximately 5 million U.S. homeowners are now at least two months behind on their mortgage payments.

#14 The number of Americans filing for bankruptcy rose another 9 percent in 2010.

#15 In 2009, total wages, median wages, and average wages all declined in the United States.

#16 According to a survey released very close to the end of 2010, 55 percent of all Americans are now living paycheck to paycheck.

#17 Half of all American workers now earn $505 or less per week.

#18 The number of Americans on food stamps set a new all-time record every single month during 2010, and now well over 43 million Americans are enrolled in the program.

#19 Even in our nation’s capital stunningly large numbers of Americans are suffering in desperate poverty. Today, 21.5 percent of the population of Washington D.C. is on food stamps.

#20 It now takes the average unemployed American over 33 weeks to find a job.

#21 The United States has lost a staggering 32 percent of its manufacturing jobs since the year 2000.

#22 The number of American families that were booted out of their homes and into the streets set a new all-time record in 2010.

#23 Some formerly great industrial cities are rapidly turning into ghost towns. For example, in Dayton, Ohio today 18.9 percent of all houses are now standing empty.

#24 Ten years ago, the “employment rate” in the United States was about 64%. Since then it has been constantly declining and now the “employment rate” in the United States is only about 58%. So where did all of those jobs go?

#25 A recent study by a law professor from the University of Michigan found that Americans that are 55 years of age or older now account for 20 percent of all bankruptcies in the United States. Back in 2001, they only accounted for 12 percent of all bankruptcies. It is getting really, really hard to live on a fixed income in the United States.

#26 In the United States today, there are over 6 million Americans that have been unemployed for half a year or longer.

#27 One out of every six Americans is now enrolled in at least one anti-poverty program run by the federal government.

In 2011, even more Americans are going to fall out of the middle class and into the poverty class.

The dynamics of the game have changed. Once upon a time if you got a college education and you worked really hard you were virtually guaranteed a ticket to the middle class.

Well, no matter what you may have been promised, those days are now long gone. Now those in the U.S. middle class are trapped inside a really twisted, really bizarre game of musical chairs. If you still have your seat you should be very thankful, because chairs are being pulled out of the game constantly as the middle class rapidly shrinks.

Sadly, the economic decline of America is only going to accelerate as government debt continues to mount and as our jobs and our industries are shipped overseas as part of the new “global economy”.

Our politicians are doing nothing to stop all of the long-term trends that are ripping the middle class to shreds so the poverty class is going to continue to explode in size in the months and years to come.

So if you are still part of the middle class, enjoy it while you can, because the party is ending and they are starting to turn out the lights.

Do you have a “Short Timer Attitude”?

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Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.

Thomas Jefferson

This is really an awesome time of the year isn’t it? I love the weather, being able to do yard work, ball games, and cook outs. Children all over the nation also love this time of year as the school year is coming to a close. Parents, teachers, coaches, and anyone that is around kids this time of the year will tell you that the children’s attitudes change.

They have what I refer to as “A Short Timers Attitude”. They know the year is almost up and they feel as if they have finally made it and all they can think about is getting out of school and enjoying the summer months. They are done with trying to do their school work, there are tired of listening to the teacher, and they are finished with trying. They may have started the school year off great and strong, focused and determined to have the best year ever. To make awesome grades and to make their mark in the school but unfortunately many, many students catch the “Short Timers Attitude”.

I have seen this over and over again throughout my life. I can remember seeing the Short Timers Attitude in soldiers as well. You could always tell when a soldier was getting close to his ETS date, (the date when his tour of duty was over). They would skip PT formations and when they were there for PT, they would barely do anything. They would go through the motions and wouldn’t put forth much effort. You could also notice their Short Timers Attitude with their work performance. Lazy and half done with most of their duties, they felt that they had served and their tour was over. No longer did they have to do the work, they were going home, and they had been there and done that. They were ready for a break from service.
The truth is, they stopped being soldiers long before their release from service.
The question this morning for each of us is: Have we gotten a Short Timers Attitude with our service to God? Have we gotten to the point in our Christian walk where we feel like we have done our part, we have been there and done that, we have been schooled and have made the grade, we know all thee is to know and now we are skating by with no desire, with no drive to be better servant for Christ.

We have an attitude of a short timer. We believe we have arrived and we no longer feel that we need to push ourselves. We no longer have to read the Bible every day; we no longer have to show up to church each week, we don’t even have to pray before our meals anymore because we are above all of that now. We know God Loves us, He knows we Love Him, and we know we are going to Heaven.

We have no goals as far as our Spiritual Maturity goes. Our only clear goals set before us was to Accept Jesus and to receive Salvation.
This is the big reason why so many believers are unmotivated in their walk with Jesus. If you want your relationship with Jesus to be motivating, if you want to get rid of that short timers attitude and make progress then you must set goals.

But what are some of the goals we need to set for our lives in order to move forward in our walk of faith? As we look at life of Paul this morning, he gives us a good place to start.

7 But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

I. First, we need to set the goal of total surrender!

A. In verses 7-9 of our text Paul says that whatever I thought was once important, whatever once gave me status and gain, I now count everything as loss of the sake of gaining Christ Jesus!

1. Surrender says, “I give up and I give in!” It is a voluntary choice to relinquish control and authority.

2. One of the big enemies of goal setting is we are not specific enough. In other words, the goal is so ambiguous and vague that it cannot be plotted or measured.

3. The goal of total surrender, though noble and right must have a plan of attack. And that plan of attack will be different for each one of us this morning. Every one of us needs to set the goal of surrender to God, but how we do that, how we accomplish that will be different for each one of us.

4. Be specific in your goal for surrender because to be any less is an invitation for the enemy to demoralize and defeat us because we don’t know how to attain our goal.

5. We must be able to tell whether we have reached our goals or not. What specifically do you want to accomplish and within what time frame?

Illustration: E. Stanley Jones, who was a great missionary to India once said, “The strangest thing on this planet is our fear of surrendering to the one safe place in the universe – God. We hug our present delusions, knowing deep down that they are delusions; but they are present, and we hug them for fear of the unknown. The earth, when it runs away from the sun simply runs into the dark. When we run away from God, refuse to surrender ourselves, then we get on thing – the dark.”

II. But Paul speaks of another goal besides surrender. There is the goal of right behavior.

A. In verses 9 -11 we are reminded that being a Christian and surrendering to Jesus brings a life style change, a change in behavior! No, the behavior is not what saves us or changes us, but the behavior does testify to the change in us!

1. Our ultimate goal is be like Jesus. To know Him and the power of His
resurrection! In Romans 8:29 we are admonished to become conformed to the image of His Son.” And in II Corth 3 :18 we are to be renewed according the image of Christ.

2. An essential goal of spiritual growth is to become more Christ-like, renewing our behavior to conform to the example of Jesus Christ.

3. Do you want to be the man or woman that God longs for you to be? Then set for yourself the goal of right behavior as a result of total surrender!

4. In Psalms 37: 4-5 we read “4 Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him and he will do this:

5. When we delight ourselves in the Lord, and then we commit our ways to him, He will bring our deepest needs and desires to pass. Why? Because of our love toward Him; we have surrendered our needs and desires to Him.

6. Could it be this morning, that some of us desire the rewards of heaven in eternity, without the habits of Godly living for today?

Illustration: Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

7. In goal-setting, priorities are of the utmost importance. If we get the order wrong, the results will be affected in a negative way. We cannot claim a surrendered life to Jesus if our life is no different than the one who makes no claim to Christianity at all.

8. Set a goal to live the way God would have us live. What changes do you need to make in your speech, in your actions, in your decisions in order to be Christ-like?

III. And Paul also gives us another goal for Godly living . The goal of perseverance!

A. In verses 12-16 we are reminded that though we may not be all that God wants of us right now, we will not give up.

1. Some days life is a breeze, but for many of us life is a race of perseverance!

2. Set a goal that no matter what, or how or when or why, you will not give up. That goal may be as practical as, when things are great and God is near I will journal what God is doing in my life, so that when difficult times come, I will get out my journal and dwell on my answer and not my anxiety.

3. The goal of perseverance requires a diligent, concentrated effort as well as a sustained effort. Such a goal does not come naturally. If we are not careful, we may revert back to our former conduct and character.

Conclusion:

Have you ever seen the movie, “We Were Soldiers?” It is a true story of 400 American troops who in November of 1965 face off with 2,000 enemy troops. The backdrop is the Vietnam War and Cornel Moore, played by Mel Gibson has been training his group of new recruits to go fight. They are green and unprepared for what lies ahead of them.

They have left family and friends to go fight an enemy in a place most of them have never heard of and tragically where the majority of them will not come home from.

As they prepare to engage the enemy, their Cornel addresses them. His desire is to encourage and instill confidence in them and to share with them the goal he has as they enter the battle. Hear his words to the men under his command.


The Cornel did not promise that it would be easy. Some of the men would not make it, but he did state before his men his goal. “I will be the first to set foot on the field and I will be the last to step off and I will leave no one behind. Dead or alive, we will all come home together. So help me God.”

– Goals have the power to motivate us and to challenge us. What is your goal as a Christian? Is it focused, specific and able to be measured? Are you willing to die for it – die to self and to sin?

This morning God wants you to know that He is with you. You are not alone. Now is the time to ask Him to give you the spiritual goals needed to move you where He wants you to be. Take the step out of an aimless, drifting spiritual life and allow the Holy Spirit to point you in the right direction by giving you clear and measurable spiritual goals.

I don’t know what your spiritual goals need to be, but I know we need them. The battle, my friends is before us. The enemy it tough and determined and if we are to make it home, we need to know what we are doing – to set spiritual goals that enable us to move forward in our Christian life.

Desire “Accountability” while going through a trial

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I guess the worst day I have had was when I had to stand up in rehab in front of my wife and daughter and say ‘Hi, my name is Sam and I am an addict.’

Samuel L. Jackson

healing

God never intended for or made provision for us to stop in our spiritual growth. God’s purpose for us is that we grow and become more like the Lord Jesus Christ in our daily lives. To reflect more of Him and less of us. Sometimes we become complacent in our Christian growth. We feel that we have reached a place and no longer have a need to grow or go any deeper in our walk with God. When this happens, God will allow adversity to come into our lives to move us forward in our walk with Him and cause us to grow. How we respond to our trials will either makes us or break us.

Why is that when we encounter troubles, trials or adversity many in the church want to quit and give up. Over the years I have seen people quit church, quit serving God, quit reading their bible and quit praying because of troubles. I have even seen those that became bitter and angry with God because of their troubles as though God has done them an injustice. Many have expressed that God had been unfair to them. Than there are those that feel that God owes them something. Let me say that God doesn’t owe any of us anything. God, because of His mercy and grace chose to bestow on us His Blessing. Not because He owed us or not because He had to, but because He Chose to.

If we will submit ourselves to God during times of adversity we will discover something about God and about ourselves.

Lesson Learned about God:

God has a purpose for every trial that comes into your life. Nothing happens to you without God’s approval or purpose.
God has the power to work things out to your good. Regardless of the circumstances you are facing God can make all things work to your good and your benefit.
God’s perspective is not the same as yours. God sees the purpose and outcome of your trial. All you and I see is the pain and the problem. God sees the future while all you and I can see is the present.
God’s promise of His presence in the time of your trial. God will never leave you when you nor forsake you.

When faced with adversity we will also discover some things about ourselves.

We will discover what our view of God really is.
We will discover what our weaknesses and our strengths are.
We will discover how mature we are.
We will discover what our priorities really are. God’s command or my comfort.

God is going to have a people that have been tried and proven.
God is going to have a people that have learned to grow through adversity.

God is going to have a people that have been made stronger and have become more determined than ever to serve Him.

God is going to have a people that is willing to change in order to become more like Jesus in their lives.

God test us to bring out the best in us.
Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us.

This morning we are going to Learn To Grow Through Adversity..

This morning you can Profit From Your Problems. You can turn Trials into Triumph.

If we are going to Grow Through Adversity. If we are going to Profit From Our Problems. If we are going to Turn Trials into Triumph. Then there are some facts of Life that we MUST face and accept.

Fact # 1 The Reality of Trials.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

1. Problems Are Inevitable.

James did not say, “If you encounter problems consider it joy” but when you encounter problems. You can count on it, you’re going to have problems. If you don’t have problems, check your pulse. It is a fact of life. Jesus said “In the world you will have tribulation.” Peter said, “Don’t be surprised when you have problems.” Count on it. Problems are not an elective in life. They are a required course. You don’t get out of them by saying you don’t want to have any problems. Nobody’s immune.

1 Peter 4:12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: Don’t be surprised by your trials they are coming.

2. Problems Are Unpredictable.

He says, “…when you fall into troubles …” The word “fall” literally means “to fall into unexpectedly”. It is the same word used in the story of the Good Samaritan where the man fell among thieves — it was unexpected. Trials are not planned. We seldom can anticipate the problems we’re going to experience in life. That’s probably good because if we could anticipate them we’d run the other way and we wouldn’t get the benefit from them. We don’t plan to have a flat tire. Or a crisis. They are unplanned and unpredictable — when we least expect them. That’s what makes a problem a problem. Often it’s inconvenient when you fall into it suddenly.

3. Problems of Various Kinds

They come in all shapes and sizes. One thing about problems: you don’t get bored with them: there are a wide variety of them.
Have you ever tried to match paint? The word in the Greek for “many kinds” is literally “multi colored”. There are problems of many shades and varieties. They vary in intensity, they vary in variety, they vary in duration. Some are minor inconveniences. Some are major crises. We have all kinds and shapes of problems. They come in more than 31 flavors. Some problems are custom made and you know it.

Fact # 2 The Reasons For Our Trials

James 1:3-4 3 Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Our Trials have a Purpose. Pain can be productive. Pressure can produces. Suffering can accomplish something. It has value in our lives. James says, ” Knowing This “. Isn’t good to know that the adversity that you are facing, the problems that you are encountering have a purpose. You are not going through what ever you are going through for no reason. When you go through troubles and trials, God is doing something in your life.

What value? Three purposes of problems in your life:

1. Problems Purify My Faith.

He uses the word “trying or testing”, James uses a word to describe the process of purifying and testing gold. You would heat the gold up very hot until the impurities — the dross — was burned off. Job said “He has tested me through the refining fire and I have come out as pure gold.” The first things trials do is test our faith. They purify us. Christians are a lot like tea bags. You don’t know what’s inside of them until you drop them in hot water. And then you know. Your faith develops when things don’t go as planned. Your faith develops when you don’t feel like doing what’s right. It purifies your faith. Christians are like steel; when they’re tested they come out stronger.

We’ve been in a test for this land for over a year. We’ve been in a course on character development. God is much more interested in building disciples than He is in building buildings. Problems purify our faith.

2. Problems Produce Perseverance In Our Lives.

“…the trying of your faith worketh patience.” Another way of saying this is, ” The testing of your faith produces perseverance. He’s talking about staying power, endurance. The ability to keep on, keeping on, the ability to hang in there. The Greek here is literally “the ability to stay under pressure.” The idea is to stay put until the purpose is accomplished.

Hebrews 12:2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
We don’t like pressure and we do everything we can to avoid it. We run from it, hide from it, we do anything to get away from pressure. But God uses problems in our lives to teach us how to handle pressure, how to never give up.

3. Problems Make Me Mature.

They make me like Jesus. They help me mature. They help me to grow. “The testing of your faith produces perseverance that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” That’s God’s long range goal. His ultimate purpose is maturity. God wants you to grow up. He wants you to mature.

God’s number one purpose in your life is to make you like Jesus Christ. God is much more interested in building my character than in making me comfortable. If God is going to make me like Jesus, He’s going to take me through the things Jesus went through. There were times when Jesus was lonely, fatigued, tempted to be depressed and discouraged. The Bible says there are two ways that God makes us like Jesus:

Through the word of God.

John 17:17 “Sanctify them through Thy truth. Thy word is truth.” James 1:22-25 “The word makes us like Jesus” it builds our character, matures us. But even if you read the Bible two hours a day, how many hours of your life are you not reading God’s word. God demands even more on the second way.

Through the circumstances of life.

Here’s where James hits right it on the head. So many Christians I meet say, “Everything was going great when I first got saved. Then all of these problems came. Maybe God doesn’t love me. Maybe I’m not a Christian. Maybe I’m not really saved. Maybe I’ve missed the boat.” You are exactly where God wants you. You’re in the process of growing. He’s making you like Jesus.
Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for good” [not all things are good but they work together for good] if we love God and are called according to His purpose.” The secret of Romans 8:28 is 8:29 “For whom he did foreknow He did predestine to become conformed to the image of the Son of God.” Why do all things work together for good? In order to make me like Christ.

Fact # 3 The Response To Trials

Our response to our trials determines the outcome of our trials. Our trials will either make us or break us. It is a matter of how we respond.

1. Respond With Joy.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
This is not the way we normally respond to adversity. Often times our first response is to get mad and question Why me Lord.
James said Count. The word count is an accounting word that means to evaluate. Accountants add up the numbers to make the balance sheets come out right. Sometimes our trials don’t add up from a our stand point or our perspective. They just don’t add up. They don’t make any sense. We can count it all joy when we know that God is doing something wonderful in our lives. Something positive. Something that will bring honor and glory to Him while at the same time make us more like The Lord Jesus.

2. Respond With Prayer
James 1:5-6 5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

A. Ask For Wisdom To Handle The Trial
How do we handle trials? Ask for God for help and understanding. You need to say God, I know that there is something good in this for me. Help me to see you plan and your hand this trial, in this adversity. Show me how to respond so the I can get the best from this. As you are praying for God to give you wisdom remember what Paul said in: 1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. You are not by yourself. There are other people in the body of Christ that have experienced what you are experiencing. They have seen God bring them through.You may feel that God has allowed more to come on you than you can handle, but that is not true. God will always supply you with the grace that is needed to overcome all of your trials.You must understand what wisdom is. Wisdom is the ability to properly apply and use the knowledge you have to correctly handle your trials and adversity.
A good teacher only tests students on the information that has already been taught. The teacher also wants the students to pass the test. So if you are going through a trial. God has already supplied with the information needed to pass the test. God’s desire is that you pass the test of your trial so you can graduate to the next level of spiritual maturity.

B. Ask In Faith
We must believe that when we ask God for help and wisdom that He will give it to us. He will give generously and liberally.
Fact # 4 The Reward of The Trial

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him. God says there will be a reward. I don’t think when we get to heaven the rewards will go to the pastors, and evangelists, and the Billy Grahams. I think the rewards will go to the people who quietly put up with difficult situations and develop the character of Jesus Christ in their life. He says, There will be a crown of life.

When the trial is finished and the purpose is accomplished then there is God’s reward. God not only wants you to receive the reward, He also wants you to love Him More.

God wants to Crown you with eternal, everlasting, never ending Life.

Conclusion:
Will you learn to grow through your adversity? Will your adversity drive you closer to God? or Will your adversity drive you away from God? We can Grow through adversity if we will face the facts of life. Trials are a part of life. Trials have a purpose in life. Trials will provoke a response. Trials will bring forth their reward.